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September 16, 2007

The general Petraeus post-game state of mind

Antiwar-Protest-1

Antiwar-Protest-2

Out of all the images of this weekend’s anti-war protest, I was trying to figure out why this two shot sequence stood out most for me.  (If there are BAGreaders who were there, by the way, I would love to hear your impressions.)

Frank Rich wrote yesterday (via Free Democracy) that people, in a darkening mood and seeing no change, are simply turning off/tuning out the war:

You can’t blame the public for changing the channel. People realize that the president’s real “plan for victory” is to let his successor clean up the mess. They don’t want to see American troops dying for that cause, but what can be done? Americans voted the G.O.P. out of power in Congress; a clear majority consistently tell pollsters they want out of Iraq. And still every day is Groundhog Day. Our America, unlike Vietnam-era America, is more often resigned than angry.

From the pictures, and the general Petraeus post-game state of mind, however, I don’t think the disgust is as sublimated as Rich suggests.  I think these pictures, in fact, reflect the byproduct of the Administration’s September Sale-A-Thon.

With these protesters up the post at the level of the lamp (trying to scale a police line), then taking an upward stream of pepper spray, the generalized message — the result of the further advancement of fraying nerves — is: elevating resistance and escalating tension.



(Story:  WAPO and NYT accounts. images: Martinez Monsivais/AP.  Sept. 15, 2007.  Washington.  Via YahooNews.)

  • jonst

    The people in Frank Rich’s circle CAN turn off/tune out the war. He ought to look and around….expand his circle beyond NYC/the Hamptons at bit. Harder to turn it off. Arrogant bastard.

  • stevelaudig

    “And still every day is Groundhog Day. Our America, unlike Vietnam-era America, is more often resigned than angry.”
    Our America [if there is only one such "thing"-- there are many "americas"], unlike Vietnam-era America is working two jobs, working weekends and has little time to process or organize–we won’t see a civil rights movement or anti-war movement of such proportions soon.
    what better way to depoliticize a population than establish an economic regime that does not allow for much social time while providing mindless entertainment [nearly all TV; NASCAR and other pro sports for example] to soak that little bit of time up? Frank is probably still living a Vietnam era life– an 8-5 job, little work on weekends, he has processing time, thinking time and inclination. Arrogant seems an unfair charge. Detached from a more common life might be more accurate.

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    It is a bit different when kids aren’t getting drafted to go fight an unpopular war.
    It angers me that the protesters were stopped from being on the capitol steps.
    It angers me that my fellow citizens were more interested in watching a football game yesterday than in paying any attention to what goes on in their country. But the media does a good job of distracting them from any real interest in anything of importance.
    Oh look! A missing mom and an abandoned baby! Let’s cover it for half and hour on Nancy Grace!

  • http://www.thehuffingtonpost.com Chomsky

    Great photo series…
    What a cowardly act. Firing pepper spray into the face and lungs of a young trapped protestor up on a light pole in America. I have been sprayed in a demonstration before, and tear gasses and hosed. Pepper is the worst. If you want to imagine what water boarding or suffocating/drowning is like, take a dose of concentrated pepper into the face, your larenyx freezes up like you have been hit in the throat with a karate chop.
    Just like the armed cop last week pointing his massive weapon in the face of the crowd as Bush heads off in his limo. American cops are administration tools.

  • Mike

    I spent the day in DC after traveling by bus from the midwest to get there.
    The anger is building. It is not yet to the point that I saw on campus in the days after Kent State where no plate glass window was left intact. But……..
    It is to the point where nearly 200 persons will be willingly arrested for civil disobedience. At each rally that number will grow. From what I saw there Saturday, the police acted professionally, they knew they would be required to make arrests and they played their part in the street theatre pretty well, but they were only having to deal with 190 persons crossing their police line.
    At some point when the entire crowd is willing to be arrested, the police will realize they are not capable of arresting them all and they will retreat and draw some new line in the sand not to be crossed. (Or they will over-react with brute force and weaponry.) The anger will continue as long as the citizens of this country are ignored while the corporations are listened to. The longer the anger builds the more chance it has to become rage.
    In the past rage was faced down with National Guard units deployed against our own citizens. With our National Guard deployed to Irag, I fear the day the rage comes face to face with contractors like Blackwater within our own borders. (And it looks like they’ll be looking at new contracts to bid on now that they’ve been kicked out of Iraq.) If, or when, that day comes there will be no rules, no polite lines in the sand, no script to follow for the street theatre.
    Get angry now, lest you get consumed by the rage later.

  • Chris

    I hope that people realize that even if they’re willing to be arrested they need not be arrested willingly. That is to say, we need to be realistic about the possible consequences of our actions but arrest (or worse) should not be the intended outcome.
    I would also like to add that those Democrats who haven’t been pushing for complete withdrawal from Iraq need to be held accountable for failing the voters. Don’t let the fear of Republicans fool you into voting for a Democrat that doesn’t deserve your vote.

  • http://mdhatter.wordpress.com mdhatter

    I was there, up front, probably 20 feet from that line of police. I didn’t see the pepper spray, but I will say I also didn’t see anything like it all day.
    The protesters were cool, stepping pretty much one at a time over the barricades, so as not to overwhelm the arresting officers.
    Letting us on the steps of the capital would have been to visually powerful.
    I have some other shots up at my place mdhatter.wordpress.com

  • Harley

    “…more often resigned than angry.” That’s the difference between the rich and the rest of us. Rich and his compadres may be resigned, but those of us who didn’t qualify for the bush tax cut are too busy trying to have $5 left over at the end of the month. It’s even more dire for young families; two jobs and no money for baby-sitters, maybe even three jobs. No insurance. Unemployment just over the horizon. The late Carl Faber in one of his lecture series (I think it was “Casting Pearls”) posited that it was an intentional maneuver by the establishment to make it impossible for people in the arts/letters etc., to teach half a day and create the rest of their time. His belief was that the creative people were a threat to the establishment. The same with college grads, no more good jobs, they’re lucky to find something at the burger joint. That’s pretty much what has happened, it is all but impossible to get tenure at a college any more.
    I tuned into c-span to see if they were covering the protests, and they were, the anti-anti-war-protest. Flags waving all over the place and red-faced ‘patriots’ shouting slogans. I could only take 3-4 minutes of that junk. And I don’t think it’s any accident that Murdoch’s DirectTV has about 500 channels of sports programs and touts them in ads constantly.
    As for the cops, they all get special “terrorist” training and most are ex-military to begin with. Can’t you just wait till all the gang-bangers and psychos that the military has been hiring get back and can’t find any jobs except in the police forces?
    What was that JFK phrase? Those who make dissent impossible, make revolution unavoidable.

  • Shaun

    I live in DC and was downtown during the protests. From a bagnews, “semiotic” perspective I’ll tell you what was most visually striking for me: the busloads of teenage kids, many of whom were obviously younger than 15 carrying signs of Bush that read “Guilty of War Crimes.” Now, I’m not saying they’re wrong, and certainly kids are entitled to their opinions too, but my guess is a 15 year old has no clue what international laws of war the President has or has not violated…
    On a similar note, is it entirely necessary for people to dress in carnival costumes at these events? I was under the impression the war was a serious subject for these people until I walked through a crowd of protesters at Union Station: one woman wearing fairy wings was carrying a wand to dispense sparkles on the faces of her fellow “protesters.” There’s a real ‘saturnalia’ effect here—protest as party, protest as social inversion, etc. There’s nothing too terrible about this of course but it makes it hard to take the protesters seriously when they’re dressed like…I can’t but feel like some of these people have opportunistically turned the anti-war movement into their own personal social scene.

  • charlie

    elevating resistance? how about dwindling protests.

  • http://mdhatter.wordpress.com mdhatter

    Shaun. to paraphrase the late Molly I., if you can’t have fun losing you won’t know what to do when you win.

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